Many artists have achieved plenty of success as a solo artist after finding fame in a band or group. Paul McCartney, Beyonce and several more come to mind as performers who found their own voice outside of what initially made them a household name. Artist TJ Penzone plans to do that with his own solo journey that began earlier this month.
TJ started THESE PEOPLE as a solo project after the breakup of his former band Men, Women, & Children (Reprise records). Not wanting to be tied down to any specific line up, the live band has a constant rotation of musicians but the songs are primarily written, recorded & produced by TJ, with additional instrumentation, and production by his brother Rick Penzone (Color Film, MWC).
His new project includes the single “A/B Vision” which is the second song off his forthcoming EP (seen below). TJ spoke with me about starting new, his new effort and many other exciting things in his burgeoning music career.
What made you want to form These People?
I was singing in another band, and writing my vocal parts, but hadn’t written my own songs in a few years. When I finally started to get back to it this specific sound, and style came out. I really enjoyed doing it, and it wasn’t premeditated at all. It felt very natural.
How much does your new project compare to when you were with Men, Women & Children?
Two totally different things. Men Women and Children sounded very frantic and hyper. This is way more relaxed, and even though occasionally abrasive there’s a lot of calming elements. Also, that was a collaboration with 4 other people, and really sounded like all of us together. This I feel really sounds like me. My brother Rick adds to the project as well. He’s like my filter and does all my artwork. He was in also in MWC.
What’s the influence this go-around and is this something you want to stick with moving forward?
I don’t really feel there’s any different influence regarding what I’m doing now and the projects inception. The approach is similar. It may sound slightly different, and hopefully evolved but it’s all in the same universe.
Tell us about your new song “A/B Vision” and how that came to be?
I was hanging out in my studio with my friend Samantha D’Giff who’s a singer, and I was just playing nonsense on guitar, and out of nowhere I started playing the verse chords, then stopped for a minute and worked the chorus out. It all happened very quickly. Then I tracked the acoustic guitar and bass that night, and Sam and I did some backups. A few months later my brother Rick added the drumbeat, which really flipped the song because it wasn’t a predictable rhythm. Also, my friend Walter Schreifels added some more backup vocals, and my other friend James Usher did some FX guitar. I really love what James added to the song. It doesn’t even sound like guitar.
The live band concept you are using is quite unusual in the industry, especially with the constant rotation of musicians. Am I wrong in that judgment?
It’s not traditional in terms of “A band” I suppose, but in this case it’s a very freeing situation. I can really focus on the songs and recordings, then figure out who would be best in the live version of the band to recreate the music. It’s oddly enough always worked out, I fortunately have a lot of talented friends.
Do you think live bands have lost their way as the industry continues to be more focused on streaming?
I don’t think so. I think having such easy access to music is positive, and people still like coming to shows whether they streamed the music or not.
What else do you have going on with These People moving forward?
I have a new EP called Mixed Signals that’s coming out next month, a new video, and some solo, as well as full band shows supporting it. After that I have 2 more EP’s already recorded to release.
More information can be found here.